Saturday, April 30, 2022

Osprey Marina - at a dock


We met this guy coming at us on the narrow waterway, we got way over. 

It was another beautiful day to travel. We even had a flood tide  behind us all the way to Osprey. The marina here is located just a short distance off the ICW down a canal like entrance. They’ve added docks to the left side of the entrance but they still don’t have electric all the way to the end of that dock. 

It’s a long, narrow way in but then it opens up into a basin, nice

They put us on the fuel dock since we’re only staying for one day and leaving the first thing in the morning. When I went to check in, I gave them one of my boat cards which got the comment, “Oh, you’re that Bob!”. That resulted in a picture taking session. She’s going to start cruising in the fall for the first time and plans on using the ICW Cruising Guide site for reference and ideas. 

She was a Bob423 fan! Now she has a burgee too. 

Osprey Marina is one of the most protected marinas on the ICW against winds and waves. There was some high water during the last hurricane but there was no damage. I would have no qualms against staying put here during any storm. 

Today was a short day but Sunday will be a 50 NM day to get to St James Marina. If we get a good start, we ought to reach St James by 2:00 or 3:00 pm, we hope. We have friends there and we’re looking forward on eating out and catching up on everything that happened in the last year. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Georgetown Harborwalk Marina - at a dock


Georgetown has its own shrimp boat fleet - good place to buy shrimp

The ride through the shallows of McClellanville was uneventful. There were no new shoals, just the usual. We had to buck a foul tide all the way to Georgetown but it wasn’t far and we pulled in around 1:00 pm. Diesel seems to have stabilized around $5.50/gal on the ICW. I can remember two years ago when I paid $1.80/gal at the same pumps. 

The usual layout - everything on ice

When in Georgetown, we always buy fish at Independent Seafood, a short walk away from the marina. The fish is fresh and kept as usual for the fish markets on the ICW - on ice and not in refrigerated cabinets.  The ice is used for the shrimp boats in large quantities so it’s a small matter to also use it for keeping fish fresh. 

The docks are first rate - ipe wood and well kept

The price have gone up considerably, up to $54 for a container of crab meat, too rich for us. We had a less expensive catch for dinner. On Saturday, we are headed for Osprey Marina for one day and then on to St James Plantation to meet up with friends. We are speeding north!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Awendaw - at anchor


We had some low tides on the way to Awendaw

The Ben Sawyer bridge does not open until 9:00 am during the week so we left Charleston around 8:20 to be there for the first opening. I like to take the Isle of Palms at full speed to counter the effects of side currents. I had two feet of tide so I didn’t think I had a depth problem. The least I saw was 4.8 MLLW which was plenty for my 5 ft keel. 

The pebble beach for Hoolie is above water at all tides

The rest of the way to Awendaw but uneventful even though we were approaching a drain tide. I noticed about a foot more water than in the fall. Perhaps the strong north winds of yesterday and this morning pushed water in. 

The sun set on the sailboat aft of us, a calm night

We are now anchored peacefully with three other boats. It’s a huge area and we have lots of room. There’s space for a hundred boats, our type of anchorage. 

We will leave around 8:30 am for Georgetown and will have 3 to 4 ft of tide for the shallows of McClellanville, no problem at all. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Charleston Maritime Center - last day and we explore Charleston, Chico’s, and Hyman’s


The indoor shopping center with Chico’s is upscale, very nice

We love Charleston. It’s great to just walk around and explore the shops. We started with a walkthrough of the Charleston City Market. There are dozens of vendors selling many items you can only find in Charleston. Next on the list was a shopping spree in Chico’s by Ann. I have it on good authority that it’s the best Chico’s store anywhere on the east coast. 

I’ve never seen anything like this elsewhere - an outside door that leads to a porch as the primary entrance. 

With Ann dropped of in heaven, I headed for my version at the Apple store. I hadn’t intended buying anything but then I saw the Apple Tags for sell. There are the size of a quarter and they will interface with your iPhone or tablet to give you its location in whatever it’s in. I marked mine “luggage” but it could be anything - a car, laptop, a person, etc. It appears in your iPhone or iPad on a map showing its location. I’ll give it a try.

The final stop, as always, was Hyman’s Seafood. They serve the best hush puppies I’ve ever had. The serving are huge so we just ordered an appetizer apiece of shrimp and grits. They serve boiled peanuts with the meal as well as hush puppies. All together, it was a great way to celebrate eating out again in Charleston. I know many would turn their nose up at eating at Hyman’s (it’s for tourists) but we enjoy it. 

We will continue our journey northward Thursday morning around 8:30 am which will give us about a 2 ft tide going through Isle of Palms. It should be enough. Our destination is the Awendaw anchorage before moving on the Georgetown the next day. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Charleston Maritime Center - I meet with Matt Foss of USACE


Matt Foss, Chief of Survey for the Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District

I was due to go out on a USACE survey boat but as I said yesterday, it sprung an oil leak. Instead, I met with Matt Foss for two hours this morning and we covered a wide range of topics of interest to those navigating the ICW. I will eventually write an article for Waterway Guide on what was covered in the interview but that’s going to take a week or so. 

We’re deep into a discussion of how soundings are taken

What I learned is that their equipment is incredibly sophisticated (read that = expensive) and there’s no way I can duplicate it on my boat. I’ll continue going down the ICW and doing the best I can with reporting depths. I’ll also give Matt a report on shoaling that is found by the 16,000 member ICW Cruising Guide Facebook page. He would rather that input go through me for vetting first. They just do not have the manpower to do that themselves. 

On the way to Harris Teeter, they still haven’t completed the building projects

Meanwhile, we hiked to Harris Teeter and provisioned for fresh vegetables and fruits. We are good now until Beaufort, NC. On Wednesday, we plan on exploring Charleston with Ann doing her shopping and meeting later on for a late lunch at Hyman’s Seafood. It’s not fancy but it’s a good place for a reasonable meal. 

On Thursday, we leave for Awendaw to anchor out. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Charleston - at the Maritime Center at a dock


We made it with 2 kts of aft current! Hoolie is guarding the boat. 

We were in no rush to leave this morning so we took our time. The anchor came up clean and as we motored out, we passed the commercial oyster beds. They do not obstruct the channel at all, off to one side. 

The oyster beds on the way out of Steamboat Creek are off to one side, out of the way

As we motored out into the main channel north, we found a foul tide slowing us to 5.3 kts most of the way from our usual 7.3 kts. At this rate we would be lucky to even make the 1:30 bridge opening at Wappoo Creek. It’s one of the most restrictive schedules on the ICW. During the week, they don’t open at all between 6:00 am to 9:30 am and from 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Between those times, they only open once an hour on the half hour - ouch! Coming from Steamboat Creek, we were slowed by the adverse current but then the current reversed in our favor about 8 miles out and we got to the bridge at exactly 12:30 pm, just in time for one of the on-the-half-hour openings. If we had left Steamboat 5 minutes later that morning, it would have added an extra hour to our trip.

We’re the far boat in the photo, just to the left of the entrance.

Coming into the dock at the Charleston Maritime Center is always an adventure. We had about 2 kts of current behind us as we approached our dock assignment. However, the marina had three dockhands out to catch our lines and we made it in without crashing.

I was scheduled to get a ride on a USACE survey boat but the boat sprung an oil leak today so the ride is off. Instead, I’ll meet Tuesday at 10:00 am with Matt Foss, Charleston Chief of Survey, to discuss what they do and gain a better understanding of how we can help. Although I’m disappointed I didn’t get a ride, I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Foss who I’ve had numerous emails with but never met. 

After the meeting, it’s off to explore Charleston!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Steamboat Creek - at anchor


View from the dinghy dock at Steamboat Creek

It was a perfect day for traveling, full sun with little wind. Although it’s been more windy than average this season, today was an exception - hopefully a harbinger of things to come. We made it through Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff and Watts Cut with no surprises, the Waterway Guide alerts and Bob423 track are still good. 

It was a Sunday so nobody was working

When you enter Steamboat Creek, you need to use Navionics SonarChart instead of an app based on the NOAA charts like Aqua Map. It’s one of the few places NOAA has not yet corrected a Lat/Long offset. If you follow a NOAA chart in, you may find shallow water since you’re not directed down the middle of the channel. 

Sunset on the trip back to Fleetwing after taking Hoolie ashore

We like to anchor near the boat ramp for convenient Hoolie relief. We expected a crowd at the boat ramp on a Sunday evening but it was deserted. It was closed since they were installing a new bulkhead. The docks were still open for dinghies, however. I had no problem landing Hoolie for his constitution. 

We’re off to Charleston on Monday and will stay three days, leaving Thursday for Awendaw and the anchorage there. I’m due to hear back on Monday if the invitation to take a ride on a USACE survey vessel has been approved. If so, I’ll have that ride on Tuesday and we will explore Charleston on Wednesday. It seems we have a spat of good weather coming our way for the rest of the trip north, let’s hope the forecast is accurate.  

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Beaufort SC- We have dinner with friends

One of the great joys of cruising is meeting up with friends for dinner!

 It was a busy day with laundry and getting a delivery of groceries from the nearby Publix via Instacart. This time the delivery was flawless and they came in less than an hour from the order over using their app. Although we do pay more than in store prices, it’s a bargain compared to renting a care or using Uber. 

This dock is north of the marina and open to day dockage

We had dinner with friends we knew that used to live in New York. They came south and built a new house which is gorgeous. The company was great, the food was top notch, and we had a great time just getting together. Cruising the ICW is such fun!

When we came back from dinner, we saw American Star docked

Whenever I’m in a marina nowadays, people drop by to say hi and thanks. It’s always appreciated and I try to encourage people to post when they see a problem or shoaling. I try to help with any questions so everyone can be as safe as possible cruising. 

On the way back to the boat tonight, we saw the American Star cruise ship tied up on the Beaufort dock by all the swings in the photos from yesterday. It wasn’t there this afternoon so it had to have come in some time after 6:00 pm. I had not realize there was that much water there. 

We plan on anchoring at Steamboat Creek on Sunday night but between us and our anchorage are two very shallow areas: Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff and Watts Cut. Since we don’t have that far to go, we’ll leave at 10:00 in order to have a rising tide as we pass through and a close to slack tide when leaving from an inside slip at Beaufort, always a challenge. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Beaufort SC- at a dock


The town has just a great walkway area with swings to enjoy the view

We didn’t have so far to go today, only 19 miles. We’re staying over in Beaufort in order to be with friends we know from up north. They moved down and built a house here and just moved in a couple of months ago. We’re eager to see their house which we’ve seen in various stages of completion during our previous visits. 

The area is lined with flowers in full bloom, lovely

Meanwhile, we took an inside dock at Beaufort which is not the best for getting off the docks. We will have to back out against a one knot current to leave Sunday morning. There is potential for a disaster if you’re not careful. We were here many years ago and with not as much experience with current, almost came to grief after the boat turned 180 in trying to leave aft first. We narrowly avoided major disaster then. Hopefully, we’ll do better Sunday morning. 

This is still the waterfront area, just a great place to walk and enjoy the summer weather

The waterfront here is lovely. They have a great walkway area lined with swings. They were almost fully occupied by people enjoying the summer type weather and watching the boats go by. We will be here one more day and have been invited out to dinner Saturday night. Then we’ll be off to the Steamboat Creek anchorage before continuing onward to Charleston. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Windmill Harbour - Calm day


What better way to spend a warm afternoon than here?

I had many projects planned for today but the boat had other ideas. Ann was in the middle of her shower when I heard a call that she was out of water, never a good thing to hear. Okay, I thought, I’ll just switch over the tanks - but then I remembered that I had just filled them a few days ago. That led to the investigation that it wasn’t a lack of water but rather a non functioning water pump! 

The grounds are beautiful

Luckily, I had followed my own advice in my Guide and had a spare water pump on board - after all - nothing ruins a trip with the crew than running out of running water, especially during a shower! I checked to make sure it wasn’t a lack of voltage being delivered to the pump and then decided it had to be replaced. I hauled out the replacement pump out of the depths of the forward bunk storage area and proceeded to do the replacement. Usually boat projects take at least 6 hours but this was an exception. It went smoothly and I was done in no time. Now I have to buy another pump for when this one fails. The last one lasted 10 years so I can’t complain. 

Sailing schools was in session!

I can’t recommend Windmill Harbour enough. It’s a great place, absolute protection from any wave action behind a lock and the wind protection is almost as good since it’s surrounded by three story houses. There no current at all since it’s behind a lock, what more could you ask of a place to dock your boat?

Still looking good. The docks are non-floating but behind a lock, floating docks are not needed.

There’s a world class restaurant in the form of the South Carolina Yacht Club. You’ll get no better meal anywhere on the ICW! Be sure to have their lunch or dinner menu if you drop by, fantastic. The people are very friendly too, great to be around. 

We’ll move on to Beaufort, SC on Friday for two days and meet up with friends we knew from New York. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Windmill Harbour Marina - at a dock and dinner with friends

We go enjoy good meals out with friends! Sam and Rev are at the right

We started out in good spirits with light winds but that didn’t last. About half way to Hell Gate the wind picked up to 15 to 20 kts on the nose (of course!) and maintained that force all the way to Windmill Harbour Marina. It was only predicted to be around 10 kts.  When I looked at the various weather models on PredictWind, the one that came the closest was PWE which is the PredictWind modification of the European Model The wind so far has always been higher than predicted this trip north. 

A meal should also be presented as a work of art, in addition to being outstanding - the YC meets that standard 

We were invited out to dinner tonight by Sam and Rev from What Yacht to Do. The Southern Carolina Yacht Club is located at  the marina and it is outstanding! It is impossible to get anything other than a great meal there. The interior is out of a magazine of fine dining and the food lives up to the billing. If you’re even in Windmill Harbour, be sure to have a dinner there!

We will be there two days and have already planned a repeat meal at the yacht club, it’s that good. Thursday is a rest day before continuing on to Steamboat Creek at an anchorage there. It has a public dinghy dock so it’s a good stop for someone with a dog. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock, bouncy night at Crescent River anchorage


The place used to be a plantation - lots of live oaks around

We had some type of wind front come through last night around 11:00 pm with high winds producing wave action in the anchorage. The bow was surging up and down about a foot and with us in the bow bunk, it was disturbing for a while. Eventually, the front passed through and a steady wind of 20 kts continued. The anchor held fine through all of this, no problems there - but with our experience in Caesars Creek, we were both looking at the GPS every once in a while to be sure we were dragging. Neither one of us got a good night’s sleep. 

As I said, the docks are very basic, note the tie offs

In the morning, we wound up right where we started out relative to the anchor, it had not moved an inch. However, the wind and waves were still howling when I took Hoolie ashore in the morning. The anchor came up clean, no mud at all and we were off to Kilkenny. 

It’s two wraps followed by an overlap - it’s secure if done right

The marina here is basically a fishing camp. The docks are homemade and there are no store bought cleats, just a block of wood to wrap your lines around. It’s all very functional but not like marinas you may be used to elsewhere. I wouldn’t advise the use of the bathrooms or showers (fishing camp). For us, it’s a convenient store between Crescent River anchorage and Windmill Harbor Marina on Hilton Head Island. They even have WiFi which you’ll need since the phone signal (Verizon) is very poor. 

Another view of the beautiful live oaks - note the long horizontal limbs

We’re headed for Windmill Harbor in the morning so we’ll need an early start, around 7:00 am to get there before low tide on the entrance. I think that we’ll turn in early tonight to make up for a restless last night. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Crescent River anchorage - at anchorage

We were on the inside, the side towards shore at Jekyll Marina

 The forecast from last night predicted rain and thunderstorms today but when we got up this morning, the forecast had changed to no rain. So with much joy, we pushed off from Jekyll to once again head north. It was a drain tide last night and we found only 4.5 feet in our slip but 7.5 feet directly behind us towards shore. When we left, it was several hours after low tide and we had plenty of water, over 10 feet. 

Hollie’s beach is at the far left. R156 is the red marker in the photo.

However, there’s not a lot of room for a 42 ft sailboat to turn around so we decided to just back out to the channel. Our Beneteau 423 backs up very well so it was no problem. The big news today was going through Jekyll and Little Mud River. We had tide with us so no problem even though we saw 6.8 MLLW through Jekyll and 4.5 MLLW through Mud River. 

We’re anchored in the Crescent River anchorage which is one of our favorites due to a lot of space for anchoring and a nearby sandy beach for Hoolie relief, a requirement for all our anchorages. We’re headed for Kilkenny Marina on Tuesday and then on to Windmill Harbor. It’s been a nice trip north so far. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Jekyll Island Marina - We celebrate Easter Sunday


Me and my French egg, yumm

We have a tradition of a French egg on Easter Sunday. It was handed down from Ann’s uncle who was a French Canadian. It consists of a soft fried egg in maple syrup. We only have it once a year on Easter. 

On Friday, I ordered a part for the forward head and four spark plugs for the outboard. According to the delivery schedule, the head parts were due to arrive the next day (Saturday) and the spark plugs on Easter Sunday to the marina. Amazon met both commitments. I was somewhat skeptical of the Sunday delivery but it was there in the marina office by 3:00 pm. You’ve got to love Amazon for boaters’ needs. 

Ann’s creation - Easter dinner on Fleetwing

Ann likes to do a spread for special occasions and Easter Sunday was one such special day. We had bought a ham and had the butcher cut it in half so it would fit in our Instant Pot with a recipe Ann found. It took all of 8 minutes to cook it with the high pressure setting and it turned out fine. Ann added sweet potatoes, asparagus, and sticky buns to the menu along with deviled eggs, of course. It was a fine meal. 

We are scheduled to leave Monday morning unless it’s raining - which is in the forecast - but the weatherman hasn’t been right yet. The marina here was dredged a couple of years ago and even at a drain tide of -0.8 feet, there’s still 7.5 feet of depth behind the boat. However, there’s only 4.5 feet in our slip (which is not the facedock, it’s a dock behind the facedock towards land). The tide at the time of our projected departure Monday morning will be 5 ft higher so we will be okay to get out. What they must have done is dredge the area behind the boats but not the docks themselves since they were occupied. 

Hopefully, the weather will be good and we can leave Monday morning for Crescent Rivers by way of Little Mud River.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Jekyll Island - Awaiting storms


The free golf carts are very handy for exploring

It was predicted to be stormy today but so far the storms have held off. We took advantage of the lull to explore the island with one of the free golf carts provided by the Jekyll Island Marina. They keep them charged in the boat storage building so they are always ready to go. The marina also has free bicycles for transient use. The island is golf cart friendly and there’s no way to exceed the island wide speed limit of 35 mph with many of the roads down to 25 mph. Even so, there’s still traffic from mainland visitors. 

It was a beautiful day on the beach - pre storms, if any come

We took off to see the beaches on the ocean side which are extensive. I can see why it was popular was a retreat for the wealthy. There are many mansions to tour but we haven’t done that, we just wanted to see the sights. 

The marina has a cat mascot, don’t do too much..

There is only one grocery store on the island and it’s more like a cross between a large 7/11 and a supermarket. They have a little of everything but with a limited selection. On a Saturday afternoon, it was very crowded, not the best time for us to go shopping - we didn’t want to wait around so we’ll make due.

Ann has an Easter dinner planned Sunday complete with a ham cooked in an Instant Pot, a first for us. We’re keeping an eye out on the forecast for Monday where we’re hoping we can leave for the Crescent River anchorage but not if severe storms remain in the forecast. It will probably be a Monday morning decision. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Jekyll Island - At a dock, getting groceries

The morning walk with Hoolie

 Today we had one of the few bad experiences in getting groceries delivered by Instacart from Publix. The delivery was fast enough with ordering in the morning and delivery but 1:00 pm, no problem there. However, we had many missing items, a first for us with the company. Instacart asked for my view of the service and after stating several items were missing, they provided a form for deleting the charges for the missing items. 

Zachry’s River House restaurant is a great place for a good meal

Although we were not charged for the missing groceries, we were still left with less than we ordered for the next leg of our journey. As predicted, the winds picked up with gusts of up to 30 kts, not a good day for rounding R42 out in St Andrews Sound. We were glad that we decided to soldier on to Jekyll yesterday and avoided the high winds of today out of the northeast. 

The marina has the use of the swimming pool too, it’s quite a resort type marina

We are scheduled to get rain over the next two days so we’re staying put and hope to depart on Monday but that’s not certain due to continued prediction of more rain and thunderstorms, we’ll see. If we miss our Monday departure, we’ll cut our stay at Windmill from two days to one day before going on to Beaufort, SC to meet friends there. 

It’s been nice to relax today and we plan on more of the same on Saturday! We are due for a warming trend later in the week.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Jekyll Island Marina - at a dock


Cumberland Divides at low tide shows its teeth - a sand bar that extends beyond the reds. 
It’s at MM 703 and is famous for catching boats hugging the reds at low tide.

We had intended to anchor at Fernandina for the night, coming from the Sisters Creek free docks, but the weather forecast continued to warn of 15 to 20 kt winds out of the northeast on Friday afternoon. That makes for a difficult passage around the outside buoys at St Andrews Sound. Waves from the northeast will hit the boat broadside as the turn is made at the buoys. If the waves are big enough, it can be downright dangerous with the boat rocking violently from side to side. 

Jekyll Island Marina was full! However, they found a slip for us on the inside.

Around 10:30 am or so, we looked at the weather forecast again and decided to soldier on to Jekyll Island with the southern winds predicted - a lot different from northeast winds. The southern winds would be behind us almost the entire way. 

Don’t miss out on a dinner at Zachry’s!

We called ahead to Jekyll to see if they had room and with an affirmative answer, we made the decision to proceed. Unfortunately, the entire facedock was already occupied so we took an inside slip, the first time we went inside which is at right angles to the prevailing current. However, with two dockhands helping, we had no problems getting to our dock and tying up.

Jekyll Island is a great place to spend a few days. One of the attractions is a great restaurant right by the marina. It seems to always be full and even at 5:00 pm, we had to wait a few minutes for a table. There are longer waits later one. Ann had the fried oyster sandwich and I partook of the crab sandwich with an appetizer of Buffalo wings and a key lime pie slice for dessert. It was all very good and I would highly recommend it, Zachry’s River House. 

We will rest up Friday (having fun is so exhausting…) and tackle the laundry and ordering groceries on Saturday. Ann has an Easter Sunday dinner planned with ham and all the trimmings. On Monday we plan on moving on to the Crescent River anchorage, gradually working our way north.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Sisters Creek Free Dock - at a dock


Still here. There’s about 60 feet of space towards the channel on the dock.

The derelict boat is still here, tied up to the dock but mostly sunk. It’s a shame that such a thing happens. The locals will blame all boaters it contributes to localities just doing away with free docks altogether, who needs the cost and manpower to remove derelict boats? It’s sad. 

It’s always fun to see dredges passing by - making our waterways safer for us

Otherwise, the free dock is a great stop. It’s secure, deep enough (15 feet) and first rate (floating concrete docks). There’s no electricity but there is water and a park to walk the dog, along with trash removal. With today’s price of dockage escalating into the $2.50 to $3.50/ft range, it’s a bargain. I just hope the derelict boat doesn’t ruin it for everyone. 

A USACE survey vessel docked for the night at our docks from the Florida district. 

We saw a huge parade of dredgers pass by, hurray! We were also visited by a USACE survey boat. It’s was out of the Florida USACE district. I was promised a ride in a USACE survey vessel from Charleston when we reach that town but it’s still up in the air. If I get the ride, I’ll take lots of photos and do an article for Waterway Guide. 

We have a short run to Fernandina on Thursday and an appointment with the Howards for dinner at Pepper’s at 5:00 pm which we’re looking forward to. We will have to anchor out since there’s no dockage space for the entire weekend. Then, it’s on to Jekyll for three days starting Friday.